Rise of the Planet of the Apes – 4K UHD Blu-ray Review
Film Title: Rise of the Planet of the Apes
Release Date: 2001
Runtime: 105 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Formats: DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10)
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Versions Available: 4K Blu-ray or (in the) 4K Trilogy
Director: Rupert Wyatt
Cast: James Franco, Andy Serkis, Freida Pinto, John Lithgow, Brian Cox, Tyler Labine
In 1968 a Sci-Fi (science fiction) film called “Planet of the Apes” took the world by storm. It would spawn many sequels over the coming decade, of which are noted below:
- Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)
- Escape from the Planet of the Apes (1971)
- Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)
- Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)
- Planet of the Apes (1974) (TV Series)
- Return to the Planet of the Apes (1975) (TV Series)
In 2001 a remake of the film was made and received a mix reaction. All of this is vital as in 2011, ten years later, a film would decide to “reboot” the franchise and use its essential storyline in a whole new fashion.
Fast forward ten years, and in 2011 you have “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” arrive from Director Rupert Wyatt, best known for “The Escapist” (2008). The screenplay was written by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, best known for co-writing two previous films: “Eye for an Eye” (1996) and “The Relic” (1997). Those screenwriters would go on to work together again after this film, and its sequels, and co-write “Jurassic World” (2015) – reviving yet another franchise. Safe to say that these two screenwriters have done their share of work to revive two legendary Sci-Fi franchises, and quite well, I might add.
Now, as to the film. “Rise of the Planet of the Apes” from 2011 sets us up for what will become a trilogy of modern episodic “Planet of the Apes” films. The story, in this first film, is that of a scientist named “Will Rodman” (James Franco), who is working on an experimental drug substance intended to repair the human brain, and help possibly treat, or perhaps cure, diseases such as Alzheimer’s. There’s a reason why this is so important to our friend Will, and that is because his father “Charles” (John Lithgow) is suffering from Alzheimer’s himself. Once an accredited man of many degrees and of high intelligence, Will’s father now struggles with basic functions and a grasp on reality. Like most people with a parent in this situation, Will cannot bring himself to put his father in a home and takes care of him, while not working, with the slight assistance of a nurse.
Meanwhile back at the company that Will works for, “Gen-sys,” they’re hard at work trying to test using the new “112” experimental drug on a chimpanzee they refer to as “Bright Eyes.” Bright Eyes is a female and she’s showing signs of amazing rapid brain development and complex problem solving as one of the lab assistants “Robert” (Tyler Labine) soon finds out. It’s within seconds that lab assistant Robert shares this find with Will. This is, in Will’s mind, enough to proceed forward with the drug and take his findings to his boss (David Oyelowo).
Let’s just say that things don’t go as planned, and Will ends up taking care of a Chimpanzee he and his father name “Caesar.” The chimp’s mother was given the “112” drug and he was born, and kept under the radar so-to-speak, thanks to the lab assistant Robert. The chimp Caesar becomes very acquainted, much like a pet (or even child) at Will’s home with his father. Will also takes Caesar around his girlfriend (Frieda Pinto) who helps out with him. This all sadly will not last though, without dishing out any real “spoilers” I will leave it at this: here you will see as the film’s title suggests, a “Rise” of the “Planet of the Apes.” In the further two sequels in this trilogy you’ll see Caesar even more, and start to become vital in this franchise.
This film has some incredible motion capture performances from Andy Serkis (best known as “Gollum” in the “Lord of the Rings” films), as well as an amazing performance by veteran actor John Lithgow, as the father suffering from Alzheimer’s. It’s not to go without mentioning that our leading man, of sorts, James Franco gives a great performance as well.
Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray in the 2.35:1 aspect ratio in full 2160p resolution with HDR (HDR10) High Dynamic Range. According to IMDb’s technical specs: this was shot on Super 35MM film using a variety of Arricam LT & Arriflex 435 cameras. This film was originally mastered digitally in 2K. That means this is upscaled to 4K.
This 4K debut comes with a solid black level. The flesh tones seem a lot more accurate with the addition of HDR. The high dynamic range also helps emphasize shadows and such in darker scenes. There’s a good healthy amount of film grain preserved here, as well as a newfound amount of detail to be seen in most every shot, and especially in closeups. Colors at times, while muted intentionally, can “pop” a tiny bit more than they did before on the Blu-ray, thanks to the addition of high dynamic range (via HDR10). It’s nothing major though, however it does help add emphasis to colors like greens, especially in outdoor daytime scenes in the lush landscapes and such.
The CG (in comparison to the two other films) can at times look a bit more dated now, especially in 4K, but it still manages to visually be impressive enough to get the job done. Andy Serkis’ mo-cap performance as “Caesar” is most certainly done justice here. The CG, despite (as mentioned) looking a bit dated at times can actually be quite jaw-dropping at times as well. It certainly has its moments.
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” in its 4K debut really gets a good visual improvement over the previously released (and impressive for its time) Blu-ray Disc release from back in 2011. There’s certainly some room for improvement here visually if they were to go back and master it in true 4K.
Video Quality Rating: 4 (out of 5)
Audio here (on the 4K Disc) is presented in the very same DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio that the 2011 Blu-ray Disc included. So, there’s no improvement what-so-ever here in terms of audio quality. That’s worth pointing out from the very start.
This mix (for its time) was, and still is, a pretty impressive lossless surround presentation. For those wanting to hear a “Planet of the Apes” film with an atmospheric mix just be patient, as the third film actually gets Dolby Atmos treatment. However, again sadly, this first, and even the second film in the trilogy doesn’t receive an Atmos mix. This 5.1 mix delivers distinctly center channel driven dialogue, includes a nice amount of dynamic range to fill your room (as much as it can), much thanks to its healthy usage of the rear channel speakers. There’s a good amount of LFE here throughout, especially during the more intense action sequences, where you’ll find your subwoofer shaking things up.
The original music (Score) by Patrick Doyle gets some excellent play in the rear channels, and throughout, namely a nice amount of LFE. This is important because the music can fully drive the film at times, along with roars of apes. There’s times when there’s no dialogue for minutes at a time.
It’s an impressive lossless 5.1 mix, even by today’s standards, but was pretty badass like 7 years ago. That’s pretty much the nicest way to put it. Hopefully they’ll “double dip” this at a later point with slightly better video (as mentioned further above) and include a rockin’ Atmos mix. Just maybe. For now, though, you’ll have to settle for this solid 5.1 lossless mix. It [still] does enough to get the job done.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
- A Digital Copy of the film is included, which is compatible with iTunes, Vudu, and more via UltraViolet. You redeem this with a code on paper insert in the various forms of packaging. There’s also a digital copy of a promo for the film’s sequel included, for those who don’t already own it.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray includes two audio commentaries:
- Audio Commentary by Director Rubert Wyatt
- Audio Commentary by Writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver
The Blu-ray Disc of the film is where the bonus contents are to be found. All bonus materials include Dolby Digital Stereo 2.0 sound – unless otherwise noted below.
On the Blu-ray Disc you will find the following:
- BD-LIVE Extras are included which uses BD-LIVE if you are on an Internet connected 4K UHD Blu-ray player to access some exclusive content. Sadly, this exclusive content is just some outdated trailers for films out on Blu-ray.
- Deleted Scenes (12:00 – HD) all come with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound.
- “Mythology of the Apes” (7:11 – HD) takes a look back on the franchise, namely the original 1968 “Planet of the Apes” film, and it includes interviews with Rupert Wyatt (Director), Richard Jaffa (Writer/Producer), Andy Serkis (“Caesar“), James Franco (“Will Rodman“), and Amanda Silver (Writer/Producer). There’s also discussion of all the connections to the original films in the “Apes” series.
- “The Genius of Andy Serkis” (7:48 – HD) focuses on the motion capture (performance) artist that plays “Caesar” in the film, and is best known for his work on “The Lord of the Rings“, also (now) “The Hobbit“, and appropriately enough the “King Kong” (2005) remake. Here you will find a lot footage from on the set and interviews with Amanda Silver (Writer/Producer), Richard Jaffa (Writer/Producer), Dan Lemmon (VFX Supervisor – WETA Digital), Dylan Clark (Producer), James Franco (“Will Rodman“), Joe Letteri (Senior VFX Supervisor – WETA Digital), Andy Serkis (“Caesar“), Tom Felton (“Dodge Landon“), Brian Cox (“John Landon“), and John Lithgow (“George Rodman“).
- “A New Generation of Apes” (9:41 – HD) focuses on, just as the title suggests, the new apes, and the mo-cap and CG technology that made them a reality on the screen. You get more behind-the-scenes footage and interviews here with most of the folks mentioned above in the previous featurettes, namely the director, as well as more members of the crew like Kurt Williams (Co-Producer), Eric Reynolds (Animation Supervisor – WETA Digital), Terry Notary (“Rocket” / “Bright Eyes“), Matthew Muntean (Creatures Supervisor – WETA Digital), Simon Clutterbuck (Digital Creatures Supervisor – WETA Digital), Gino Acevedo (WETA Texture/Creature Art Director), Kevin Norris (Lead Texture Artist – WETA Digital), Nicholas Gaul (Lead Groomer – WETA Digital), and Daniel Barrett (Animation Supervisor – WETA Digital).
- “Scene Breakdown” is a feature that uses a clip from the film (1:34 – HD) letting you use the colored buttons on your remote control to change between the following views:
- Final Scene with Picture-In-Picture Reference
- Early Animation
- Performance Capture
- “Character Concept Art Gallery” (HD) is an interactive feature and allows you to navigate through the artwork (still images) with your remote control.
- “Breaking Motion Capture Boundaries” (8:43 – HD) focuses on the mo-cap and also offers up more on set (behind-the-scenes) footage and interviews.
- “Composing the Score with Patrick Doyle” (8:07 – HD) focuses on the film’s musical score composer, as the title would suggest. You’ll get to see some recording sessions with Patrick conducting the orchestra.
- “The Great Apes” (22:37 – HD) is very lengthy and focuses on every type of ape used in the film. This proves to be very, very informative and educational.
Overall, you get no new bonus materials. You simply get the Blu-ray bonus materials ported over physically on the actual Blu-ray Disc itself. You do however get the two audio commentaries on the 4K disc which is nice to see included, when some other studios opt not to do this logical choice. There’s also a Digital Copy of the film in HD as well as 4K if you’re watching on Apple TV 4K or on VUDU through your TV or set top streaming box.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
“Rise of the Planet of the Apes” is just as moving and enjoyable to me a good roughly 7 years later after reviewing it on Blu-ray back in 2011. It would spawn the sequels “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” (2014) and “War for the Planet of the Apes” (2017) to form a trilogy. More on that later.
This first film in the modern “Planet of the Apes” trilogy comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray in its debut with a solid video presentation, and even though it’s recycled a solid 5.1 lossless audio presentation. You also get all the same bonus materials from the Blu-ray ported over literally on the Blu-ray Disc itself, along with a Digital Copy of the film.
Lastly, it’s worth noting here that the individual releases are available like this modern “Planet of the Apes” franchise films from Fox. There also is a box set on 4K UHD Blu-ray that has all 3 of the films called “The Planet of the Apes Trilogy.” This is a much more affordable choice for most consumers if they enjoy all three of the films in the trilogy.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials
Great Film AND Presentation
2017 4K “Planet of the Apes Trilogy“ Box Set